Clare’s dreams of securing a place in Division 1 of the Allianz National Football League were scuppered by a dominant Mayo on Sunday afternoon.

Mayo 2-22
Clare 2-18
Venue: Cusack Park, Ennis

Impressive displays against Laois, Kildare and Cork had given Clare a chance of returning to the top flight of the National League for the first time in nineteen years but as they soon discovered, Mayo were a level above their three tests to date.

It was a very bright start for Colm Collins’ charges who led 0-05 0-03 with nine minutes played. Crucially, they failed to register another score for nine more minutes while in this period Mayo tacked on 1-04.

Cillian O’Connor kicked the first goal of the afternoon. The Ballintubber man was lining out for his senior side for the 100th time, he was fouled by Cillian Brennan and duly converted the penalty past Stephen Ryan on fourteen minutes.

This was a setback for Clare but the concession of another goal on thirty minutes came out as a bigger blow. Oisin Mullin tapped home the effort after a superbly worked move from James Horan’s men, the move began with a Rob Hennelly kickout following the first wide of the game.

Mayo closed out the half with points from O’Connor, Lee Keegan and Ryan O’Donoghue to hold an eleven point half-time advantage.

Podge Collins brought a lease of life with him when introduced for his first appearance of 2021. He entered the fray along with debutant Conor Jordan at half-time. Collins would win three turnovers early on as Clare began to bring a renewed fight to proceedings.

However it was only when Éire Óg duo Darren O’Neill and Gavin Cooney both tapped home goals that Clare’s confidence really began to grow. Cooney goaled on forty minutes and reduced the distance to seven points. Captain Eoin Cleary with two white flags and a single from Emmet McMahon brought it back to five points before Paul Towey and Podge Collins swapped scores.

McMahon kicked three scores on his introduction, this followed by efforts from David Tubridy and Cleary left a single score between the sides but Paul Durcan would kick the final score to see Mayo bounce back to Division 1 of the NFL at the first attempt, having been relegated in October for the first time in 23 years.

Losing both of the O’Connor brothers to injury will be a headache for James Horan ahead of their Connacht championship tie with Sligo. They had the upper hand when it came to ripping the opposing defence apart and in this regard Tommy Conroy was prolific. Aidan O’Shea’s fielding ability saw him dominate proceedings in the middle third while Oisin Mullin also stood out for the winners.

Ahead of a Munster quarter-final with Kerry, Colm Collins and Clare will benefit from a test of this nature, albeit promotion was the main aim ahead of this clash. Defensively, Clare were punished on the counter-attack while the patient style brought in by Gerry McGowan does appear to be suiting this side. Eoin Cleary and Paddy Durcan had a very competitive duel while others to impress for the Banner were Gavin Cooney, Sean Collins, Pearse Lillis, Podge Collins and Emmet McMahon.

Scorers Mayo: C O’Connor (1-04 2f), T Conroy (0-03), P Towey (0-03 2f), O Mullin (1-00), P Durcan (0-02), M Ruane (0-02), R O’Donoghue (0-02 1f), B Walsh (0-01), S Coen (0-01), K McLoughlin (0-01), L Keegan (0-01), R Brickenden (0-01), D McHale (0-01).

Scorers Clare: E Cleary (0-08 6f), G Cooney (1-01), D O’Neill (1-00), D Tubridy (0-03), E McMahon (0-03), C O’Connor (0-01), P Lillis (0-01), P Collins (0-01).

Mayo:
1: Rob Hennelly (Breaffy)

4: Lee Keegan (Westport)
3: Oisin Mullin (Kilmaine)
2: Enda Hession (Garrymore)

5: Rory Brickenden (Westport)
6: Paddy Durcan (Castlebar Mitchells)
7: Stephen Coen (Hollymount Carramore)

9: Diarmuid O’Connor (Ballintubber)
8: Matthew Ruane (Breaffy)

10: Kevin McLoughlin (Knockmore)
11: Aidan O’Shea (Breaffy)
12: Bryan Walsh (Ballintubber)

13: Tommy Conroy (The Neale)
14: Cillian O’Connor (Ballintubber)
15: Ryan O’Donoghue (Belmullet)

Subs:
20: Jordan Flynn (Crossmolina Deel Rovers) for D O’Connor (11) (Inj)
25: Paul Towey (Charlestown) for C O’Connor (35) (Inj)
22: Darren McHale (Knockmore) for O’Donoghue (50)
18: Eoghan O’Donoghue (Belmullet) for Hession (53)
26: Conor Loftus (Crossmolina Deel Rovers) for Conroy (62)
19: Eoghan McLaughlin (Westport) for Brickenden

Clare:
1: Stephen Ryan (Kilrush Shamrocks)

2: Ciaran Russell (Eire Og)
3: Cillian Brennan (Clondegad)
4: Eoghan Collins (Ballyhaunis)

5: Cian O’Dea (Kilfenora)
6: Sean Collins (Cratloe)
7: Daniel Walsh (Kilmurry-Ibrickane)

8: Cathal O’Connor (Coolmeen)
9: Darren O’Neill (Éire Óg)

10: Pearse Lillis (Cooraclare)
11: Eoin Cleary (St Josephs Miltown)
12: Darragh Bohannon (Shannon Gaels)

13: Gavin Cooney (Éire Óg)
15: David Tubridy (Doonbeg)
14: Joe Mc Gann (St. Breckans)

Subs:
20: Conall Ó hÁiniféin (Éire Óg) for Walsh (23)
21: Conor Jordan (Austin Stacks) for E Collins (HT)
17: Padraic Collins (Cratloe) for McGann (HT)
19: Aaron Griffin (Lissycasey) for Cooney (51) (Inj)
23: Emmet McMahon (Kildysart) for O’Connor (51)
24: Cillian Rouine (Ennistymon) for Ó hÁiniféin (57)
25: Keelan Sexton (Kilmurry Ibrickane) for Lillis (57)

Referee: Niall Cullen (Fermanagh)

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If you’re here, you care about County Clare. So do we. Did you rely on us for Covid-19 updates, follow our election coverage, or visit The Clare Echo every week for breaking news and sport? The Clare Echo invests in local journalism and we want to safeguard its future in our county. By becoming a subscriber you are supporting what we do, will receive access to all our premium articles and a better experience, while helping us improve our offering to you. Subscribe to clareecho.ie and get the first six months for just €3 a month (less than 75c per week), and thereafter €8 per month. Cancel anytime, limited time offer. T&Cs Apply. www.clareecho.ie.

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